Phoenix City Guide
Phoenix is the largest city and capital of the US state of Arizona. The city originated from the humble beginnings of a small, ancient, agricultural village and is today a huge large city, which is the epicenter of the Phoenix Metropolitan area that includes the suburbs of Scottsdale, Mesa and Tempe.
Phoenix is also referred to as the Valley of the Sun since it enjoys a year round sunny climate characterized by 300 days of sunny weather and is thus a favored choice of retirees and sun seekers, who escape to Phoenix to get away from frigid winter temperatures. Phoenix, additionally, is a well known educational center as it is home to two major Universities, the University of Phoenix and the University of Arizona as well as several other colleges.
Where to stay in Phoenix
Phoenix and its famous suburb of Scottsdale and other surrounding communities are well known for providing visitors with a wide range of hotel choices. Whether you need luxury hotels, spa hotels, unique boutique hotels or even discount hotels, you are sure to find your choice accommodation in Phoenix.
Downtown Phoenix is home to both city hall and the state capitol and is a business, financial and government hub that also hosts most of the city's sports arenas (Chase field), museums (the Phoenix Museum of History, Heritage Square, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Arizona Science Center) and entertainment venues like the Orpheum Theatre, Symphony Hall and the Herberger Theater Center.
This downtown heart of Phoenix is known as Copper Square and is filled with art galleries along with many Phoenix luxury hotels though the area hosts a few discount hotels as well. If you want to be in the heart of all the action in Phoenix then the city’s downtown area hotels should get your vote.
Scottsdale is technically a separate city, though it is considered a part of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Scottsdale extends from Carefree in the north to the community of Tempe in the South, over a distance of more than 20 miles.
Scottsdale is home to numerous shopping malls and a lively restaurant scene though it also hosts a wide assortment of historic attractions. However, Scottsdale is especially well-known for its many verdant golf courses and numerous opulent luxury hotel resorts, which are known for their many pampering facilities. Visitors looking for a relaxing break at a spa or resort hotel property tend to base themselves in the Scottsdale area of Phoenix.
Places to see in Phoenix
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world. This spectacular canyon is a mile deep, 277 miles long and 18 miles wide and was carved by the turbulent Colorado River over millions of years.
The canyon today is contained within the oldest national park in the USA and features steep cliffs, peaks and troughs that are made up of various multi-hued layers of rock. The park also contains several hiking and riding trails and is visited by more than 5 million people from around the world annually who all seem transfixed by its wild and unmatched beauty.
The Desert Botanical Garden
This garden is located within Papago Park in Central Phoenix and offers one of the world’s finest collections of desert flora. The Desert Botanical garden encompasses 50 acres of beautiful exhibits, which include 139 rare, threatened and endangered species from around the world.
The Phoenix Zoo is one of the youngest zoos in the country. The zoo is a privately owned, nonprofit organization, which doesn’t receive any government funding. The Phoenix Zoo is open every day and if you want to visit, do make sure that you plan your visit during the early part of the day as the animals usually take cover in the shade from the searing afternoon heat.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art showcases modern and contemporary art, architecture and design trends. The museum features five galleries, which host a permanent collection apart from ever changing temporary exhibitions. This museum is also equipped with a sculpture garden and offers an event calendar that features educational programs and special events for adults and families, including lectures, docent-led tours, workshops and classes.
The Apache Trail
The Phoenix Apache Trail extends over 48 miles and offers a winding scenic drive that snakes along a chain of lakes along the Salt River as it passes through some of the beautiful rugged terrain of central Arizona. This trail passes ghost towns, ancient ruins and the Superstitious Mountains.
The Apache trail was built at end of the last century as a road to get building materials through the Superstition Mountains to the Roosevelt Dam, which was then under construction. This trail features much gravel and is navigable by car though a one-way trip on the trail can take several hours depending on how many sightseeing breaks you take.
The Heard Museum
The Heard Museum hosts America’s finest collection of Native American art and this museum should be on your must-see list for Phoenix vacations.
The museum’s permanent collection features over 39,000 works of art that includes textiles, katsina dolls, pottery, semi precious and precious stone jewelry, woven baskets, cradleboards, paintings and sculpture and much more. You should try this museum during your trip to Phoenix to witness some of the best Native American artifacts.
Best time to visit Phoenix
Phoenix is blessed with a dry and arid climate, which is characterized by nearly 300 days of sun. The summer months (June to September) in Phoenix are especially scorching and temperatures often register 100F (38C), which has led to Phoenix being regularly featured in the list of the world’s hottest cities.
Winters in Phoenix are a better time to visit as the days are mild and sunny and snowfall is rare though frost and fog do make an occasional appearance.
Getting around in Phoenix
Being the largest city in Arizona and well served by top airlines across the destinations, reaching Phoenix by air is the easiest. Fare Buzz makes it even more convenient with an exhaustive inventory of cheap air tickets. Be it Delta, American Airline or others, Fare Buzz offers myriad cheap air tickets to Phoenix from around the world.
Phoenix has limited public transport options in the form of buses and the metro light rail service. The metro light rail services were introduced in Phoenix only in 2008 and are still being extended all over the city.
The city is also equipped with a free central city shuttle bus service; called DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle) which is useful for accessing various attractions like the state capitol and major shopping malls. The DASH buses run on weekdays between 6.30am and 5.30pm. However if you are keen to explore the city, you should perhaps consider hiring a car during your vacations in Phoenix.
Where to shop in Phoenix
Shopping is serious business in Phoenix. This Southwestern city abounds with several expansive, air-conditioned malls and shopping centers that offer numerous choices for shoppers, while shielding them from the city’s scorching summer heat.
Scottsdale and the Biltmore District are popular locales for upscale shopping in Phoenix. Located here are various malls and shopping centers like the Scottsdale Fashion Square (Arizona’s largest shopping mall) and large, outdoor, malls like Biltmore Fashion Park, Kierland Commons and Desert Ridge Marketplace. These various shopping destinations not only host outposts of several well-known retailers and department stores like Neiman Marcus, Barney’s New York, Nordstrom’s, Jimmy Choo, Carolina Herrara and others, but they also offer countless dining and entertainment options as well.
Aside from these malls and shopping areas, Phoenix also offers shopping opportunities at the many charming vintage shops, boutiques, galleries, jewelry stores, souvenir shops and Native American craft stores that populate the areas of downtown Scottsdale and the Scottsdale waterfront.
Bargain hunters will revel in the fact, that Phoenix, aside from upscale shopping also offers much outlet shopping at its big, sprawling outlet malls like the Outlets at Anthem. A mall located north of town that offers more the 60 discount stores belonging to various designer brands. A newer outlet shopping option is the Tanger Outlet Center located in West Phoenix. This mall hosts the factory outlets of several big name brands like Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, J.Crew, Nike, Guess and many more. Phoenix Premium Outlets is yet another new addition to the city’s outlet shopping scene. This shopping center is located in Chandler within close proximity to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and offers deals from luxe retailers like Coach, Michael Kors, and Armani amongst others.
Where to eat in Phoenix
Phoenix is home to a rich mix of cultures and culinary interests. From Italian and Mexican to traditional American and Asian cuisines, there’s something to satisfy every craving at the city’s hundreds of one-of-a-kind restaurants. The list of the best eateries in Phoenix currently include restaurants like Citizen Public House, Gertude’s, House at Secret Garden, (restaurants offering traditional American fare), ShinBay (Japanese), Distrito (Mexican), Kai (Native American cuisine), J&G Steakhouse and Pink Pony (Steakhouse), Villa Peru (Latin American), Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café (comfort food), Yupa’s Thai Kitchen, Chou’s Kitchen (Chinese) and Hue Gourmet (Vietnamese).
Nightlife in Phoenix
Phoenix comes alive after dark and offers both visitors and locals numerous opportunities to kick-back and relax at its bars, lounges, live music venues and dance clubs. Popular nightspots in Phoenix currently include Coach and Willie’s (sports bar), Merc Bar (martini bar), Char’s Has the Blues (music venue), The Hungry Monk (Beer Bar), Ice House Tavern (comedy club and bar), and Sun Devil Cellar and Pub (wine bar).